Towards gaming with more Strife, less abuse

Strife, the new second-generation MOBA developed by S2 Games. Photo: S2 Games
Logo for Strife, the new second-generation MOBA developed by S2 Games. Photo: S2 Games
The second-generation MOBA game, slated to reach SEA, has unique systems to minimise toxicity in the gaming experience
Published: 9:04 AM, October 14, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, October 15, 2013
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SINGAPORE — Ever wanted to start playing a competitive game, only to be hurled a diarrhoea of verbal abuse? Are the words ‘noob’, ‘feeder’ or ‘just quit the game’ all too painfully familiar? In games that are intense, team-based and having a list of unsaid rules, players are emotionally-invested and all out to win. Letting down teammates and facing the wrath of the infamous ‘keyboard warrior’ is something most would not want to experience.

So, are neophytes never going to get the chance to join in the fun without getting thrashed out?

For those unfamiliar with the genre, two teams of players compete with each other, with each player controlling one character (also known as ‘champion’ or ‘hero). They play cooperatively with their teams to push objectives, taking the enemy’s towers down to infiltrate their base and destroy their Nexus to win.

The first-generation of MOBA games, namely Defense of the Ancients (Dota), Heroes of Newerth (HoN) and League of Legends (LoL) have been around for awhile that the character pool has evolved to become more complicated to use (to the point where some of the ‘weaker’ or ‘older’ heroes are left out), and the emergence of tournaments around the world has raised the bar. More complex strategies, higher expectations and increased skill level of the community are superimposed on newcomers.

Imagine entering a game and be immediately flamed for using a character whose skillset doesn’t complement the rest of the team well, only to enter the battlefield getting killed by the enemy who is not only merciless but has been a master of his hero for years. It’s easy not to enjoy the game, throw it down and never pick it up again.

Strife, S2 Games’ collaboration with Asiasoft, aims to rid the toxicity — cyberbullying, verbal abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct — of the hostile environment inherent in the first generation of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games. It offers beginners and professional gamers alike an equal hand at the battlefield, and lets them play according to their comfort and level of skill without any consequences.

“What we have done is to take all that we’ve learnt, all that experience we’ve had from HoN (Heroes of Newerth) and built it into Strife. We’ve held on to what players like about the game, and we take out the bad stuff,” said Mr Tim Shannon, Producer of Strife, S2Games.

In terms of base gameplay and concept, Strife covers familiar ground well-beaten by predecessors like Defense Of The Ancients (DOTA), League of Legends (LoL) and HoN. Mr Shannon says the second-generation MOBA sports what ‘Pixar-like graphics which are original and robust’, a shop to purchase items, towers to defend and take down, and a large terrain map with three lanes.

But it’s a highly-competitive genre, and Strife differentiates itself by trying to eliminate a key factor that kills game enjoyment: Players getting into fights with other teams, and even their own teammates.

Strife does this by distributing gold and experience points attained in the game among members of the team. Also, players might be surprised to enter the battlefield and find no chatbox available. Instead, clearly-communicated game mechanics alert the player to the danger in most situations, such as when the hero is sustaining damage from turrets. With these improvements, Strife eliminates battles over resources, roles and ‘kill-steals’, reducing the number of things that player can do wrong.

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